In a game billed as the return of a coaching legend, it wasn’t surprising that Sunday’s 16-10 victory by the Redskins was largely due to coaching. What is surprising, is that it was defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams that was the coach responsible.
Going into 2004, critics everywhere pointed to the Redskins busy off-season and stated that they had not done enough to shore up the defensive line. On Sunday, there was no evidence of any shortcomings on the line. In fact, there were no signs of shortcomings anywhere on the defense. A workman-like effort by all, and some exceptional breakout performances as well.
Safety Matt Bowen not only played his best game as a Redskin, he was the best Redskin on the field. Williams must have seen something in Bowo that he really liked in the pre-season, because he was moving him around and putting him in a position to make impact plays all day. And Bowen did just that. He registered 8 tackles and 2 huge sacks, including one that forced a fumble from Brad Johnson and resulted in a subsequent Redskin field goal. A few of those tackles were on special teams as Redskin fans watched #41 show up all over the field.
Andre Lott also deserves mention. Rookie sensation Sean Taylor was scratched from the starting lineup due to a virus, and Lott was thrown into the fire. Seeing his first significant starting time, the third-year safety out of Tennessee tallied 4 sacks and one defended pass filling in for Taylor. Many critics scratched their heads when Washington released former starter Ifeanyi Ohalete, but Lott showed Sunday why Redskin officials felt that it was their best move.
Despite some great individual performances by players, Gregg Williams undoubtedly owned the performance of the day award and is the recipient of this week’s game ball. Washington’s defense was both stifling and intense for four quarters. Right from the first whistle, players were hungry, and they were ready. Tampa Bay felt it was important to come out and establish their offense, but they would do no such thing. Williams and the Redskins defense stymied the Bucs to two immediate three and outs and set a tone that they would maintain for the entire game.
The Buccaneers would manage less than 200 total yards of offense, and just 30 yards on the ground on 15 carries. Johnson went 24 of 37 on the day, but for only 169 yards. The Redskins defense did a great job of limiting the underneath options, and their aggressive approach allowed very little time to allow plays to develop. Lavar Arrington had a sack, and Ron Warner and Renaldo Wynn split another, to give the Redskins four on the day (with Bowen’s pair). Jermaine Haley didn’t get a sack, but he blew up Johnson on a hurry that caused the Bucs quarterback to throw the ball directly to Antonio Pierce and set up the Redskins’ 13-10 go-ahead field goal.
The ‘other’ Redskins’ coach didn’t have a bad day either. While the Tampa Bay defense put up a strong opposition, a new generation of Redskin fans got a glimpse of what a Joe Gibbs offense looks like in the fourth quarter. Despite stepping up in the third quarter and stopping the Washington offense continually, the Bucs defense couldn’t match the effort in the fourth. As often is the case against a Gibbs’ offense, the defense just got worn out. When the Redskins got the ball back with 5:03 to go in the fourth quarter, new Redskin fans started nail biting… old Redskin fans started celebrating. The Dirtbags ate up the Bucs defensive line and not only moved the clock, they moved the chains. The Redskins couldn’t quite run out the clock entirely, but they did manage to drive the ball more than fifty yards and kick another field goal to go up 16-10.
But the Redskins had left Tampa Bay sixteen seconds on the clock and enough time to run two plays. Brad Johnson ran back out on to the field and dropped back to try and complete an intermediate pass to set up a ‘hail mary’ attempt. Gregg Williams called a blitz and Johnson was sacked by Lavar Arrington to run out the clock.
How else would you expect a defensive gem to end?
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway